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AZ Center for Loss & Grief

What is Grief ?

Grief is the internal part of loss, how we feel. The internal work of grief is a process, a journey. It does not end on a certain day or date. It is as individual as each of us. Grief is real because loss is real. Each grief has its own imprint, as distinctive and as unique as the person we lost. The pain of loss is so intense, so heartbreaking, because in loving we deeply connect with another human being, and grief is the reflection of the connection that has been lost.

Why Not Just Avoid Grief ?

We think we want to avoid the grief, but really it is the pain of the loss we want to avoid. Grief is the healing process that ultimately brings us comfort in our pain.

What is the Difference Between Grief and Mourning ?

Mourning is the external part of loss. It is the actions we take, the rituals and the customs.  Grief is the internal part of loss, how we feel. The internal work of grief is a process, a journey.

When Does Grief End ?

Grief is not just a series of events, or stages or timelines. Our Society places enormous pressure on us to get over loss, to get through the grief. But how long do you grieve for a husband of fifty years? A teenager killed in a car accident? A four-year-old child?  A year? Five years? Forever? The loss happens in time, in fact in a moment, but its aftermath lasts a lifetime.


What is Anticipatory Grief ?

Anticipatory grief is the “beginning of the end” in our minds. We now operate in two worlds; the safe world that we are used to and the unsafe world where a loved one might die. We feel that sadness and the unconscious need to prepare our psyche.

Anticipatory grief is generally more silent than grief after a loss. We are often not as verbal. It’s a grief we keep to ourselves. We want little active intervention. There is little or no needs for words, it is much more of a feeling that can be comforted by the touch of a hand or silently sitting together. Most of the time in grief we are focused on the loss in the past, but in anticipatory grief we occupy ourselves with the loss ahead.

When a loved one has to undergo preparatory grief in order to prepare for the final separation from this world, we have to go through it too.  We may not realize it at the time. It may be a strange feeling in the pit of the stomach or an ache in the heart before the loved one dies. We think of the five stages of death occurring for the dying person, but many times loved ones go through them ahead of the death also. This is especially true in long drawn out illnesses. Even if you go through any or all of the five stages ahead of the death, you will still go through them again after the loss. Anticipatory grief has its own process; it takes its own time.

Forewarned is not always forearmed. Experiencing anticipatory grief may or may not make the grieving process easier or shorten it. It may bring only feelings of guilt that we were grieving before the loss actually occurred. We may experience all fives stages of loss (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) before the actual death. We may experience only anger and denial. Not everyone experiences anticipatory grief and if they do, certainly not in the same way.


Grief Relief

Everyone knows that loss is one of life’s most difficult experiences.  However, it also is true that when one experiences intense feelings of grief and sorrow, comforting words can make a miraculous difference. When the end of life does happen, we never are prepared. The fact is, emotionally, most of us aren’t ready to deal with life-altering loss. Anna Prassa, a professional grief counselor, will help you and your loved ones through this life change so you can come to terms with your loss. She will listen to your thoughts, feelings and needs, so you are able to communicate from the heart about the loss. Grieving with a caring individual is naturally healing and can help make this life transition one filled with precious memories of your past loss.

Anna has created an innovative approach to healing from grief, combining natural healing elements with personal care to help people through a very difficult time. It is crucial that listening and caring be the focus of the grief process so loved ones can move forward in a healthy and positive fashion.

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How Will I Know When I Am Done Grieving ?

After a significant loss, you may be consumed and overwhelmed by the grief reactions you are experiencing. In time, as the reality of the loss sinks in, and all the changes as a result of the loss have been experienced, you will learn to adjust to living with your loss. Eventually, even after significant loss, you will realize you are grieving less as you discover renewed energy in living. You will become less consumed by the impact of the loss and begin to draw comfort rather than pain from the memories. In a sense, you are never “finished grieving.” With a significant loss, there will always be moments when you will remember the loss, and perhaps you experience some of the feelings of grief, as in the times of “sweet sadness” mentioned above. Fortunately, the time period between these surges will lengthen considerably as you learn how to cope with your loss.


How Long Does Grief Last ?

Grief lasts as long as it lasts. Although this statement may not seem helpful to you, it is true. It is different for each person. It is important to realize that, while grief and its intensity will subside, most find that it is replaced with a “sweet sadness” that comes at times of remembrance. This is simply the acknowledgement that significant loss has occurred. That the loss, and the person who is gone, matters and affects our lives.

There are many factors that affect how long a person grieves, including age, maturity, personality, physical and mental health, coping style, culture, spiritual and religious background, family background, other stressors and life experiences. The time spent grieving may also depend on how prepared a person was before the loss was experienced.


Other Faces of Grief

Grief can arise from any loss, not just from a death of a close loved one. Other losses that can trigger grief are:

  • Loss of a relationship
  • Loss of a pet
  • Loss of a job
  • Loss of health
  • Loss of a dream
  • Holidays
    …just to name a few !


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